Montana is not that far from me. To put it simply, it’s a six hour drive with only one state in between. Turns out the state between me and Montana holds some remarkable trout water, and thus I’ve spent most of my time exploring the waters of Idaho. I don’t regret my many Idaho adventures, and I still plan to spend most of my “out of state” days fishing there, but after a three day trip to Montana this Spring I’m wondering why it’s taken me so long to fish in the Big Sky Country.
Our trip (Kohler and I once again) evolved from an opportunity to do a Euro Nymphing presentation for a fantastic Pat Barnes Trout Unlimited group in Helena. My good friend Brad Hansen who has lived in that area now for a couple years set the whole thing up. He was also awesome enough to take time off from work to show us around his local fly fishing play ground, (which just happens to includes the Missouri and Madison Rivers, along with MANY other awesome stretches of water). His kind wife Janelle and their old pup Bruce were also willing to let us crowd their house for a few days. Truly the royal treatment, and we still owe them many thanks!
Brad spoiled us and took us down the Missouri in his drift boat. We threw streamers most of our first day up there, and we lucked into some amazing fish. The next two days were spent Euro Nymhing. As it often does, Egan’s Tungsten Surveyor along with the Rowley Stone, caught a good majority of our fish on both the Missouri and the Madison. We caught some of the most beautiful Rainbow’s I’ve ever seen, and a handful of beefy browns. The surprise of the trip came the evening of the first day when Brad landed a beautiful thick cutthroat in the Missouri. That was his first Missouri River cutthroat and it looks to be a very rare catch (see video above for a quick clip of the fish).
Part of the reason both Kohler and I fell in love with Montana was the quality of the fish. Pound for pound, even the smaller fish in the 15″ range fought as hard as any trout I’ve ever hooked, and the pigs we got into put a major bendo in the rod as well.
On our last morning there Brad and his friend Will took us to a place where the “locals” fish. All I’m going to say is it didn’t disappoint 😉
I hope it’s not long until I can return to Montana for another three days of fly fishing. Only next time, I’ll have a better idea what to expect and three days will not be enough. I can see why Paul Maclean once said, “Oh, I’ll never leave Montana, brother.” (A River Runs Through It), and now I partially understand why.